The successor of the first generation Redmi Note is finally here in India. Back in November 2014, when Xiaomi first launched its 5.5-inch Redmi Note phablet, it was a game changer at Rs 9,999. After 16 months, Xiaomi aims to redo the same thing at the same price, of course, in a more competitive market now.
The Redmi Note 3 will be offered in two options: 2GB RAM with 16GB ROM at Rs 9,999 and 3GB RAM with 32GB ROM at Rs 11,999.
With the market slowly shifting towards 5.5-inch smartphones, rivals LeEco, Huawei, Lenovo and Coolpad had their respective smartphone already placed in this price band much before Xiaomi. However, the Redmi Note 3 seems to have its niche carved out, given the response from the audience showcased at the launch event.
So, does the Redmi Note 3 justifies the fanfare surrounding it? Here is the review of the 3GB RAM plus 32GB ROM version.
Design and Display
Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 smartphone boasts a metal body. The sandblasted metal texture gives a premium look and feel to the device. It comes in Gold, Silver and Dark Grey colours.We got the gold version to play around with and quite liked the exteriors.
Compared to the earlier Redmi Note version, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 is slimmer and lighter, despite packing in a massive 4,050mAh battery. It features a unibody design, thus the back cover cannot be removed.
The Redmi Note 3 comes with a hybrid SIM and microSD card slot. Users can insert a micro sim card and microSD card simultaneous or opt for a micro sim and nano sim card to two different numbers. The maximum capacity of the microSD card is 32GB.
On the flipside, the form factor of the Redmi Note 3 is common. The device resembles its competitors with very little difference. The power and volume rocker are located in the right. The audio jack as well as IR emitter are placed at the top and USB charging port is available at the bottom. Turn the phone around and users will find the primary camera with flash and a fingerprint sensor.
The Redmi Note 3 offers a 5.5-inch Full HD 1080p IPS 178-degrees wide angle display. The display quality is at par with other popular smartphones in this price range. There is no Corning Gorilla Glass or equivalent protection on the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3. So, getting a screenguard is necessary.
The display is bright, crisp and the colours appear vivid, however, the screen is quite reflective. Xiaomi’s Sunlight Display feature, which adjusts the contrast and colours of the screen according to the surrounding light, offers good outdoor visibility. So, one is able to read texts easily under direct sunlight.
Performance and Camera
The device comes with a 16MP PDAF f/2.0 5-element lens rear camera along with a dual tone LED Flash. On the front, there is 5MP f/2.0 selfie camera. The fingerprint scanner can be used to click images on both the cameras. The selfie quality is good, too. For people who love to use software enhanced beautification features, the Redmi Note 3 will surely bring a smile to their faces, as Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 is rich with these features.
The quality of the main camera is good under normal lighting conditions. The camera is fast and the results are pleasing. However, under low light conditions, images appear grainy and auto focus takes time.
This is the first smartphone in India to run Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 650 processor. While Xiaomi claimed an AnTuTu score of around 77,000 during the launch, this review unit could register only 49,000 points. Benchmark scores should not be given much importance while judging the performance, as it keeps on changing with usage.
Overall, the device is smooth and there are no performance glitches as such to write about. It is a good device for multitasking and playing games as wel. As far as the heating issues are concerned, it does get warm, especially when gaming and browsing the net on WiFi. But this doesn’t affect performance.
Adreno 510 GPU takes good care of graphics and the device is powered by LPDDR3 RAM like other smartphones in this range. Talking about which, the RAM availability is low. While reviewing the 3GB RAM version, the maximum available RAM available was around 1.5GB in idle state. So, it is advisable to opt for the 3GB RAM model instead of the lesser version, for users who love to play a lot of games.
Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 is powered by Android 5.1.1-based MIUI 7. One of the best features of MIUI 7 is the end user gets a complete software package out of the box. While the previous version of MIUI, still available on Mi 4i, is bug free, the newer version is not.
One major bug in the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 we faced is the ‘sim card not activated’ message. This simply puts the device on airplane mode without any notification. So, you might be carrying the smartphone in airplane mode unknowingly and then wonder why have you not a got that important call you have been waiting for. This issue crops up every time the device is switched on, rebooted or when the user opts out of airplane mode.
It is powered by a 4,050mAh battery. For most average users, the device can last for more than a day with 3G and WiFi turned on. The battery takes around 4 hours to charge fully Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 supports all Indian 4G bands — 3, 5, 40 and 41. This smartphone is also among the few devices which supports VoLTE. This will be important for people who might use Reliance Jio 4G SIM cards in future. Also, it supports 3G connectivity on both SIM card slots.
While the call quality is decent, expect surprises. Sometimes the mic is cut off during an on-going call, especially if the caller is holding the phone close towards the neck. This doesn’t happen always, but it is something that is a bit annoying.
Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 comes with an IR blaster, which can be used to control home appliances such as the Television.
Barring the few glitches, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 stands out from the crowd in its own unique way. With a new design, features and price, it is among the best budget phablets available in India. For people who are looking forward to a 5.5-inch smartphone in the price range of between Rs 9,000 to Rs 13,000, this is a good choice
Other options in the price bracket are Huawei Honor 5X, LeEco LE 1s, Lenovo Vibe K4 Note and for the price conscious, the Coolpad Note 3.